Tag Archives: fall

Things I Did This Fall

Hello there! Long time, no write.

Work got busy. I basically stopped cooking. My project started to wind down, and I’ve traveled three times since October. And as I’ve expressed before, I spend enough time on the computer at work that I wasn’t always excited to get back on and write at the end of the day.

The weather cooled down- a little bit. The leaves started to turn color. And I got out of Amarillo for a weekend and headed up to Denver to see my friend J.

Obligatory photo of the airplane wing.

Obligatory photo of the airplane wing. On approach into Denver.

It was a whirlwind, but it was still a much needed break from the same old routine I’d fallen into in Amarillo. First, we went to Steuben’s and had some delicious comfort food and great cocktails. It’s also hipster central, and you sit in pretty close proximity to other tables. It’s awesome people watching!

Moscow Mules. Vodka, ginger beer, and lime. So refreshing!

Moscow Mules. Vodka, ginger beer, and lime. So refreshing!

These are gravy fries. You better come really hungry if you're gonna start a meal with these!

These are gravy fries. You better come really hungry if you’re gonna start a meal with these!

The next day, we went up to Idaho Springs, a gorgeous little mountain town less than an hour out of Denver. The weather was perfect, and it actually felt like fall. Also, it has been more than a year since I was up in actual mountains (ahem, Chile), so the altitude and terrain were wonderful.

¡Montañaaaaas!

¡Montañaaaaas!

We also got pizza at the original Beau Jo’s. This pizza is not a joke! Do as the locals do and cover that leftover crust in honey. It’s delicious!

Pizza for 1-2 people. Any bigger and we would have been taking back leftovers.

Pizza for 1-2 people. Any bigger and we would have been taking back leftovers.

Idaho Springs 1

Beautiful surprise waterfall in Idaho Springs.

On the way down from the mountains. Take a look at my Cajón de Maipo photos and tell me they're not alike.

On the way down from the mountains. Take a look at my Cajón de Maipo photos and tell me they’re not alike.

 

Later that night, we headed towards downtown for a classic Mexican dinner of tamales, and then over to the Punch Bowl for a drink and some games. The Punch Bowl is like Dave and Buster’s…but nothing like it because it’s really classy and sleek. No photos, because I was enjoying the company and didn’t think of it!

That Sunday, we went to brunch at Snooze. This is breakfast paradise. It’s all they do! You can find all kinds of eggs Benedict, French toast, and some of the most bonkers pancakes I’ve ever had.

J.'s breakfast.

J.’s breakfast. Some kind of delicious sausage gravy and puff pastry and egg situation.

Two words: pancake. flight. You can get a flight of three different pancakes. I had spiced pear, pineapple upside down (!!!), and sweet potato. I mean, come on.

Two words: pancake. flight. You can get a flight of three different pancakes. I had spiced pear, pineapple upside down (!!!), and sweet potato. I mean, come on.

I spent the rest of the day exploring downtown Denver, near the capital and along the 16th Street Mall. Denver is so eclectic. You can find all kinds of shops along the Mall, not far from the seat of government. It reminded me a lot of Madison, WI, but on a slightly bigger scale.

The Colorado State Capitol Building. It has a golden dome. Just like my alma mater!

The Colorado State Capitol Building. It has a golden dome. Just like my alma mater!

Steps of the Capitol Building, proving that the city is indeed one mile above sea level.

Steps of the Capitol Building, proving that the city is indeed one mile above sea level.

Buffalo figures on the 16th St. Mall.

Buffalo figures on the 16th St. Mall.

View of the skyline...from not very high up.

View of the skyline…from not very high up.

If I’d really gone to Denver to see the sights and get to know the city, I would have given myself more time and certainly done a lot more planning. I basically bought a plane ticket and told my friend I was coming. So really, I was there for the company. It had been a long four months in Amarillo without anyone besides the people I worked with, TV, Internet, and books. Simply getting to see some different scenery- i.e., MOUNTAINS and CITY- and be with someone who knows me was enough.

Thank you for an excellent weekend, J.! I hope I can get back to Denver and see more of it soon.

That was the middle of October. Suddenly it was Halloween, my project was quickly winding down, and I was headed home for a quick weekend.

Isn't this one cute?

Isn’t this one cute? It also kind of looks like the emoji.

I got back on Halloween, just in time to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters and remember that fall can actually be cold- it had been in the 80’s in Amarillo that week.

It was also around this time that I got news that I’m going to Chicago for my next project. True story: I’m actually writing this from my hotel on the Magnificent Mile. That’s a whole other blog post, though.

So, the Hotel Kitchen thing didn’t really work out as planned. I also didn’t do nearly as much sightseeing or getting around in Amarillo as I thought I would.

Here’s the deal- when I felt like laying around and doing nothing, I didn’t want to go do something just for the sake of blogging or Instagramming it. The rise of social media have changed how we perceive and approach experiences. Can we photograph it? Can we write about it and say something sexy or attractive or thought-provoking? Is it hypocritical or paradoxical to be writing this right now?

All of that is to say, if you were maybe expecting a little more life out of this blog while I was on my Texan adventure, I’m sorry if you were somehow disappointed.

But now I’m in Chicago. And I’m going to have a real apartment with a REAL KITCHEN. People. This is HUGE. I hope you’re as excited as I am! You’re going to see a whole new level of cooking and activity and just stuff on the blog soon, as I get to a place I can settle into for a while.

More about Texas to come.

With love,

Gaby

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Fall Break Baking Extravaganza

Alternatively titled, Working the Kinks Out Before the Holidays.

I more or less lived in my kitchen during this fall break. When I wasn’t doing homework or keeping ahead on thesis research, I was baking. This will probably be the most time I have for baking until…I’m not sure when. If I’m lucky I’ll eke out two pies the day before Thanksgiving (the kitchen belongs entirely to my dad on Thanksgiving Day). And this year, I don’t get home for Christmas until December 22nd. Three days before Christmas. Last year, I arrived home from Chile on December 12th and started baking probably the next day, affording me 12 whole days to bake. Ideally, I don’t bake on Christmas Eve Day. That means that this year, I get two days to bake, including the day I come home from school. TWO DAYS. This will require advance planning, likely including baking at school once my exams are finished, as well as a limited menu and no new recipes. Just the classics. (My family is probably happy about this. Less time to bake = less cookies to eat,  less ingredients to buy, less mess in the kitchen.)

Anyways. Given all of that, I took advantage of plenty of uninterrupted kitchen time.

There were chocolate chocolate chocolate chip muffins, from the Joy the Baker cookbook. Yes, three times the chocolate.

Look at those crackled tops. COME ON.

Look at those crackled tops. COME ON.

Just a close-up.

Just a close-up.

White chocolate drizzle. Because why not? Oh, and calling them muffins means they're an acceptable breakfast.

White chocolate drizzle. Because why not? Oh, and calling them muffins means they’re an acceptable breakfast.

Joy does it again, throwing in buttermilk and extra chocolate and calling them muffins and not cupcakes. I made a second batch today and they turned out just as great the second time around.

Then I gave Joy’s recipe for cream cheese pound cake a shot.

All was going well. The batter was gorgeous. Silky and fluffy and creamy, just like it should be. It went into the pan. I thought, hm, the pan looks a little full. Well, maybe it won’t rise that much.

I was wrong.

Looks delicious, huh?

Looks delicious, huh?

One side of the cake- just one side, not both, thank goodness- overflowed and oozed through most of the bake time. So once the rest of the cake was done cooking, we took it out, let it cool, and then I cut out the ugly part and salvaged the rest of it. It really is a delicious cake. It’s tangy and dense and moist (such a horrible word but so right for desserts). It just has  a chunk missing.

The sad part is, I had meant to send that cake to friends away at other schools. So I had to figure out something else to do. Snickerdoodles worked out as planned.

Such pretty little things!

Such pretty little things!

Soft, crackly, and covered in cinnamon sugar. Easy fall goodness.

Soft, crackly, and covered in cinnamon sugar. Easy fall goodness.

Last dessert of the week: oatmeal raisin cookies, because we had leftover raisins from another recipe. I’ve made these before. I’m pretty sure I’ve made them from the same recipe before. And here is what happened.

Fail #2 of the week.

Fail #2 of the week.

To be fair, they’re edible. They are chewy and soft. But they were so spread out and some of them were rather dark. I think it was either that the butter was too warm when I incorporated it, or there just wasn’t enough flour. It was probably a mix of both.

So, two fun baking fails this week. Let’s hope that that means smooth sailing for holiday baking.

But I haven’t even gotten to the best part of my baking/cooking this week! Guys! I made empanadas! ¡Empanadas chilenas caseras!

Here is the pino (filling) before getting wrapped up.

Here is the pino (filling) before getting wrapped up.

I did the filling according to the cookbook my host parents gave me: chopped top round, browned and cooked with caramelized onions, green chile pepper, and a bunch of spices. Since I couldn’t find merkén, I made a substitute with chili powder (I used guajillo), paprika, cumin, and coriander, with salt and pepper to taste. It got pretty darn close! And of course, each empanada had a whole black olive, half a hardboiled egg, and raisins.

Going into the oven! My folding may need a little work.

Going into the oven! My folding may need a little work.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Empanada de pino con una ensalada de lechuga, tomate, y palta.

Empanada de pino con una ensalada de lechuga, tomate, y palta.

You can take the girl out of Chile, but you can’t take Chile out of the girl. I will absolutely be making these again, hopefully with merkén and with better folding.

So besides all of that, I took some walks.

Fall 1

Fall 2

Fall 3

Fall 4

Tomorrow is the last day of calm before the big push begins. The last eight weeks of this semester, and I think especially the next four weeks until Thanksgiving, are busy with a capital B. There will be papers and RA duty and other deadlines and continued job searching and a million other things that will come up. The first eight weeks of the semester were a gift, considering how manageable and evenly paced it all was. But it’s probably going to be a hurricane, not a tornado. Which means that I can see it coming and get ready before it hits!

So I’ve got a plan. I’m making an awesome playlist, because if there’s going to be a lot to do, I’m going to dance my way through it. I’m going to keep exercising because everything they say about exercise giving you more energy is absolutely true. I feel better and I work better mentally when my body works hard. I’m going to keep journaling and incorporate more prayer time, which is a far more constructive way to clear my mind than say, Facebook. I’m going to schedule the heck out of every day and push to get everything on every to-do list done, whenever possible. There is nothing like going to bed at the end of the day knowing that you are keeping pace and aren’t behind in the morning.

It takes focus. It takes discipline. It takes a recognition of my own mental and physical limits, and also a willingness to push and ask more of myself. More than that, it takes confidence, and the belief that I can do it all, and that I won’t break under pressure.

So let’s get to it then!

With love,

Gaby

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Dame la palta, po!

(To my Chilean friends: I am aware that the “po” is almost never written. It is simply added to the end of words as a “p.” This is so that non-Chilean speaking readers understand.)

Hola, amigos!

We are now just about at the end of September, and with it, the end of las fiestas patrias de Chile. I listened to a lot of cumbia and cueca. As I indicated in my last blog post, the Chile study abroad alums of my university gathered for a little carrete. Muy piola (meaning nice, cozy, laidback).

A truly beautiful thing. Prepping palta for the party.

A truly beautiful thing. Prepping palta for the party.

Palta, salt, and a little bit of lemon juice. This disappeared at the carrete.

Palta, salt, and a little bit of lemon juice. This disappeared at the carrete.

My friend C. is actually half Chilean, and she knows how to make pebre just by taste. It was fantastic.

My friend C. is actually half Chilean, and she knows how to make pebre just by taste. It was fantastic.

Someone brought pisco, and we had enough lemons and powdered sugar to make pisco sours. Not too strong, not too sweet- juuuust right.

Someone brought pisco, and we had enough lemons and powdered sugar to make pisco sours. Not too strong, not too sweet- juuuust right.

AND we had completos. This is mine. Without mayonesa. Because I'm mañosa (picky) like that.

AND we had completos. This is mine. Without mayonesa. Because I’m mañosa (picky) like that.

We also had alfajores, those delicious little manjar-filled bites of heaven, and imitation terremotos. Terremotos are a very Chilean drink, consisting of pipeño, which is fermented white wine, and pineapple ice cream. They are typically extremely strong, hence the name “earthquake.” Ours had none of the original ingredients and were not nearly as strong, but we definitely get an A for effort. The only thing that was missing was the chicha.

I love these gatherings for a number of reasons, the main one being that people who have not had this experience are only willing to listen for so long until they check out or get bored. If you haven’t been abroad, or if you haven’t been to this country, you eventually don’t feel like hearing about it anymore. Which is perfectly fine! But we never get tired of talking about it. I especially don’t (hence this blog, obviously). So when we have the opportunity to get together and revel in our experiences with people who also don’t get sick of talking about it, we have to take advantage of it.

Chile has infiltrated my life in a number of little ways that I’m just realizing now, a whole year later after my first long-term stay. I drink a lot of agua de hierbas (herbal teas) after meals and before bed. I’ve mostly switched from coffee to tea in the mornings. I cannot drink it without sugar, but I never add milk. I am far more tolerant of smoking than I ever was. I talk constantly about the weather. I have a tendency to run about five minutes behind schedule (and I am making a concerted effort to fix that, because my world just does not work that way). I am way less tolerant of cold than I was before. That’s a problem, considering that I spend winter in the Midwest. It was 68 the other day. 68 guys, not a cloud in the sky, with a nice breeze. I wore jeans, a cardigan, and a light scarf. There were other people walking around in shorts and t-shirts. And I looked at them and thought that they must be freezing.

This is apparently what happens when you are deprived of central heating for months. Warm is no longer warm enough. But I know how to dress for when it’s 45 in the morning and 75 at midday, which coincidentally was the weather here all last week!

Actually though, this fall has been fabulous so far. Lots of sun, nice warm temps but not hot enough to make you sweat. Nice and cool at night. The leaves haven’t turned quite yet, but we’ve had a few chilly mornings where I really wanted something cinnamon-y to eat. Just wait until I get back into the kitchen over fall break, guys. It’s going to be an explosion of apples and pumpkin and cinnamon and nutmeg and probably oats and streusel of some sort. Gah. Can’t wait! I missed this entire season last year, and I intend to make the most of it before we once again plunge into winter.

I have two stories about palta (avocado, just in case you forgot) to share with you:

First, I sat down near one of the dining hall chefs at lunch the other day. I was just eating my lunch, reading stuff on my phone, and suddenly she asks if I’d like half of an avocado. She was going to split it with another chef, but she decided she didn’t want her half anymore. I pretty much jumped out of my seat and hugged her. It was wonderful. I’m telling you, angels exist!

Never gets old.

Never gets old.

And then, my friend had an avocado that was going bad that, despite her fervent love of the magical green fruit, she wasn’t going to be able to eat. So we brought it along to the dining hall with us, and I prepped it with toast, as always. That’s more palta than I had in the entire five months between my Chile stays. I was a happy cabra (in Chilean, another word for girl) after those meals.

Those are my palta stories. Only people who crave palta like I do and had it almost every day for the better part of a year (i.e., other Chile study abroad students) will understand what joyous occasions these meals were, and how much my belief in the goodwill of human beings has been strengthened.

Besos,

Gaby

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Asentándome

Two posts in one day. I feel like writing today.

As I mentioned previously, I’m back. And I am loving it. LOVING it. I had a wonderful week at home, don’t get me wrong. I certainly had my moments where I wondered if I just shouldn’t stay at home all summer and relax, enjoy the good weather, bake. And I’m sure there will be moments in the next ten weeks where I’ll get homesick, and frustrated with the metro, and livid with the micro (the bus), and be absolutely done with rain and cold and 5:00 PM sunsets.

But for now, I am living up this honeymoon phase. I’m eating palta with almost everything. Every cup of tea and even Nescafé is delicious. I love the hubbub and the smell of the centro. It’s so exciting to be walking around everywhere and know where things are. I walked to and from the metro yesterday almost without thinking (don’t worry, I was aware of my surroundings, I was not being unsafe). I remembered how to get to the mall from the metro! I even went to the park to work out yesterday! Certain words and phrases are coming back to me, so I’m sounding a little more Chilean as I get settled back in. All right, so I kind of sound like a gringa who’s seeing everything for the first time and anything that’s not United States means it’s AWESOME. But that’s not how I feel. I feel like someone who is really excited to be home.

There were moments during the first day that were surreal. One second I was in Milwaukee. The next I was on a plane. The next thing I knew, I was walking out of customs with my bags, I turned the corner, and there was my host mom! Then I was in the car and we’re flying down the carretera, and the sun wasn’t even up yet. Then we got home, and it blew my mind how everything smelled exactly the same, most everything was in the same place, and here I was, eating breakfast at the table, in the same seat I sat in at every meal. The sameness has been mind-boggling, but also incredibly comforting. I get to come back knowing everything I learned over five months! There’s almost no awkwardness this time. I’ve come home, to my other house, my other family.

I was making sandwiches last night for dinner, and my host mom suddenly looked up from her work and said, you know, it’s like no time has passed at all. It’s true! It is just like coming home from college at the end of a semester. And I’ve done it twice now, in two weeks. You know you belong somewhere when you can come back and it’s like you’ve never been gone at all. And I am blessed enough to be able to do that in two places.

Here is what the first couple of days have looked like. (I am sorry for the lack of gorgeous food photos. I have mostly been eating with my family, and my best, prettiest meal was shared with our extended family. I didn’t want to be the rude gringa photographing her meal.)

Guys! Look! MOUNTAINS! The world is not flat!

Guys! Look! MOUNTAINS! The world is not flat!

I wonder how many times the neighbors have seen me taking this picture...

I wonder how many times the neighbors have seen me taking this picture…

One of my favorite things about this house: laying around in bed all morning.

One of my favorite things about this house: laying around in bed all morning.

It is fall here. Which makes me want all things pumpkin and cinnamon. And Thanksgiving.

It is fall here. Which makes me want all things pumpkin and cinnamon. And Thanksgiving.

Can I just say that I missed out on fall last year, so the sight of fall leaves is pretty dang great.

And yet, the roses are still in bloom.

And yet, the roses are still in bloom. Makes up for missing the start of rose season at home.

I start my internship tomorrow- yes, my job, which is the real reason why I am here. I hope you are all having fabulous weeks, and thanks for following along so far!

With love,

Gaby

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